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10 Best Survival Matches to Withstand the Elements

When you’re out in the wilderness, it is absolutely critical that you come prepared. An essential item for preppers is survival matches. We’ve examined many essentials for survival, and today we’re looking at the 10 best survival matches to consider keeping in your gear. After all, the benefits of being able to make fire on command cannot be overstated.

Fire has played an important role in man’s life over the years, so it stands to reason that you’d want reliable survival matches when you’re up against nature all by yourself. In this guide, we’re going to share with you our top picks for survival matches and discuss their importance in a survival situation.

What Are Survival Matches?

If you’re looking for a way to start a fire quickly and easily, survival matches are just the ticket. They’re also handy in case you find yourself stranded in the wilderness without a lighter or fuel. The best part is, they’re totally affordable and easy to store anywhere.

Survival matches are typically used as an emergency fire starter for outdoorsmen and survivalists. But what exactly are survival matches, and how do they work? Survival matches are small wooden sticks that have a coating on one end.

Traditional survival matches also come in two parts: the striker and the matchstick itself. You can light the match by scraping the coated match head with the striker or striking the match on another type of material, such as a rock.

The difference between survival matches and ordinary matches is that the former can produce a flame and stay lit in damp conditions — some even underwater. As you can imagine, this is extremely valuable when you’re out in the wilderness and at the mercy of the elements.

Choosing Survival Matches: What to Look For

As you browse your options in stores or online, you’re bound to come across several different types of matches. There are regular matches, and then there are survival matches. Let’s examine some of the matches you’ll see, so you will know what to avoid and what to buy.

Matchbooks (Paper Matches)

You’ve likely tried keeping a matchbook or two in your gear when camping or hiking. But if you’ve ever tried using them in an outdoor scenario, you know they don’t hold up well. That’s because they are designed to be sold cheap. Therefore, they are the poorest-performing of all match types.

The paper book that houses these matches is easily susceptible to moisture. As such, the matches within can get waterlogged and become unusable. Matchbooks might work in everyday situations, such as lighting a candle. But they aren’t recommended for emergency situations.

A wet match
In a survival situation, your matches need to be able to withstand the elements

Kitchen Matches

At first glance, you might think these sturdy-looking matches will do the trick if you’re stranded in the middle of the forest. While they certainly perform better than matchbooks and are more reliable, they are equally susceptible to moisture.

What’s more, standard kitchen matches don’t stay lit long enough to viably start a fire. As such, they aren’t suggested for survival situations.

Long Matches

Long matches are most suitable for lighting pilot lights and gas grills. They work well for the job they were intended for but aren’t ideal for outdoor use. Yes, the lengthy matchstick is a plus. But the feasibility of these matches just isn’t there when it comes to survival use.

Survival Matches

These matches should be your go-to for any and all outdoor and survival scenarios. They typically measure no less than four inches in length and feature benefits like weatherproof or waterproof properties — an absolute must for outdoorsmen and survivalists.

Not all survival matches are made equal, so be sure to check out our reviews below. First, though, let’s go over a few more essential attributes you need to consider when choosing matches.

Burn Time

When you’re in the wilderness, you need matches that stay lit as long as possible. This is especially true when you’re faced with inclement weather. Matches that stay lit longer give you more time to get your fire started, which is essential for outdoor use.

Keep in mind that not all brands promote the same burn time, so keep an eye on this feature when looking for the best survival matches.


Can you light your matches in damp, cold weather? Survival matches are often designed for this very situation, so make sure the brand you’re buying is capable of lighting and staying lit in all kinds of different weather conditions.


Perhaps the most important attribute of survival matches is ignitability. You want to be able to strike and light your match on virtually any surface. This is important in a survival situation, especially if something happens to your matchbox and you no longer have the manufacturer’s striker.

Survival matches generally let you light them on any surface for optimal convenience and usability. If you find a brand that doesn’t boast this feature, you should look elsewhere.

10 Best Survival Matches

Now that you know what to look for in survival matches, let’s explore our top picks. Here, you will find reliable brands that deliver incredible results. If you are in a survival scenario, these are the matches you want to have on your person.

1. UCO Titan Stormproof Matches

These heavy-duty survival matches are king when it comes to starting fires in the wilderness. Whereas conventional matches stay lit for a few seconds, UCO Titan Stormproof matches stay lit for up to 25 seconds. That’s plenty of time to get your fire started in the elements.

And because the match head is designed to light and stay lit in all kinds of weather conditions, you’ll have the perfect companion if you find yourself in emergency situations. Another big plus is the extra-long matchstick, which ensures that you don’t accidentally burn your fingers when starting a fire.

Each match measures over four inches in total length, giving you the perfect balance of match and match stick. What’s more, every match is incredibly robust and durable. So much so that if you submerge a match in water, you can relight it without issue.

2. UCO Strike Anywhere Matches

UCO makes quality matches. But, admittedly, survival matches cost more than typical matches. So if you find yourself in a pinch and you need some reliable penny matches, UCO’s Strike Anywhere matches will do the trick.

They’re made like kitchen matches but offer durable construction, and they’re trustworthy in a survival situation. What’s more, they come in a small, compact box that is perfect for keeping on your person or in your survival kit.

You get plenty of matches per box, and they don’t cost much at all. If you’re on a budget or you can’t find official survival matches before your expedition, these penny matches will get the job done.

3. Zippo Typhoon Matches

One look at these matches will tell you all you need to know about them. Zippo’s Typhoon Matches are built like a tank and offer incredible resiliency once lit. In fact, you can easily light tinder to start a fire in the rain or other weather conditions.

And because these matches are wind-resistant, the flame even stays lit in the face of strong wind. And with a roughly-30-second burn time, you’ll have more than enough time to get a nice fire burning in the wilderness.

So impressive are these matches that even water doesn’t faze the flame. If you’re willing to spend the extra cost to pick up these survival matches, they are certainly worth the investment.

4. Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter

Armed with a magnesium rod, the Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter produces super-bright sparks to help you get your fire going. As its name suggests, you get more than just an instant fire-starter. The 5-in-1 design features a handy paracord, whistle, rod, compass, and striker.

The fire-starter itself promises as many as 16,000 strikes, so you should have plenty to last for some time. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if it’s wet and raining, as this unit can even ignite wet tinder. If you’re looking to downside your gear and you want a compact tool that offers more than one use, the Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter is worth a look.

5. Texas Bushcraft Fire Starter

This flint-based fire starter is ideal for beginners who want to learn the ropes of survival. But it’s also reliable enough for advanced survivalists and outdoorsmen to use. You can expect around 15,000 strikes from the Texas Bushcraft Fire Starter, so there’s plenty of use to be had here.

We also like that you get a tinder scraper, paracord, hex wrench, ruler, bottle opener, and map scale all in one unit. Most importantly, though, you can create sparks in all kinds of conditions, making this one a must-have if you’re in a situation where you need fire fast.

Survival matches on tree stump
Choose the survival matches that are right for your potential survival conditions

6. UCO Titan Stormproof & Windproof Matches

UCO makes the list yet again, this time with its Stormproof & Windproof matches. The same UCO Titan quality is here, delivering durable and reliable survival matches that you can count on to start fires. You get 25 matches per box, and each match has a burn time of 15 seconds.

The only thing we don’t really care for is the box. Yes, it’s better quality than traditional matchboxes. But it doesn’t provide the same waterproof protection as UCO’s plastic cases. This is to be expected, of course, but if you want premium quality, you should look into other UCO offerings.  

7. UCO Windproof & Waterproof Survival Matches

There’s a limited quantity of matches, but it’s enough to help you stay toasty in the middle of nowhere. UCO gives you 15 matches, each offering about 12 seconds of total burn time. It’s just a little below average, but at least the quality of the matches in standard UCO fare.

Best of all, you can relight these matches even after getting them wet. This adds a layer of reliability when you’re in a survival situation. You even get extra strikers with this kit. And with its already-low cost, you’re getting a good bargain here.

8. UCO Stormproof Survival & Emergency Matches

Presented in a tough plastic case, UCO’s Stormproof and Emergency matches work well in emergency situations. You get 25 matches, and the entire pack is pretty affordable. These storm matches are a solid option if you’re looking for budget-friendly options.

They’re reliable, and the included plastic case floats if you accidentally drop it in water. Burn time is about average, offering 15 seconds. All in all, these are worth the investment and will ensure that you can get a fire started in the wilderness.

9. Coghlan’s 940BP Waterproof Matches

Unfortunately, these aren’t actually waterproof matches. Instead, they’re water-resistant. Still, Coghlan’s 940BP Waterproof Matches do a fine job of working in damp conditions. And the compact box makes it a breeze to carry these matches on your person.

You get a total of 40 matches, and they’re all very affordable compared to some of the other survival options. We weren’t big fans of the matchsticks, as they’re not quite as sturdy as we like. And the burn time is pretty limited, offering just 10 seconds. But they do the trick when you need them to and are worthy of your consideration.

10. UCO Long Burn Matches

While it’s true that long matches aren’t typically ideal for outdoor use, UCO is the exception. The company’s Long Burn matches deliver 60 seconds of burn time (matchstick included) to help you get those stubborn survival fires started.

We like that you can use the long matchstick as more tinder to help get your fire going. And they are very safe to use, thanks to the longer matchstick. But be warned: Like any other long matches, these can get wet and become useless.

Wind will also snuff your flame, so consider the disadvantages to using these matches compared to official survival matches before purchase.

An Essential Item

Survival fire burns in the snow in the forest hill
Survival fire burns in the snow in the forest hill

Survival matches can save your life, so it is absolutely imperative that you make sure you have some in your survival backpack at all times. By choosing one of the entries from our reviews, you can be sure to have reliable survival matches that work well in starting fires in all kinds of conditions.

After trying one of the best survival matches listed here, during what is hopefully a survival practice drill, let us know how they worked for you.